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TITLE: A Helpful Smile in Almost Every Aisle (+ telephone callback messages)
By Jacob Gibson

Hopefully none of my co-workers read this because they might actually believe some of it! XD Most of this is a joke and should not be taken seriously. Otherwise you may begin to question my sanity, dislike me very much, or think I'm a terrible person. XD It's funny how I conjured this idea several weeks ago and didn't even have a moral until I wrote it. (The second part contains ideas for phone callback messages and you don't have to read it if you're not interested.)
Since April of this year I have been employed at a grocery store called Hy-Vee in my town and feel super blessed to work there. (If you don't have one in your area I feel very sorry for you. ^_^) I have a variety of things to do, including sacking groceries, retrieving carts from the parking lot, a little cleaning and stocking, helping customers load their vehicles, and more. The employees are kind to me, the deli food is awesome, the pay is decent, many of the customers are friendly, and the business should be steady in financial difficulty.

One of the things I like best about the store is their commitment to serving the customer in a friendly and helpful way, which reminds me of Jesus' words that "whoever wants to be the first must be last." We even park behind the store so customers can get insider faster! Our motto is "a helpful smile in every aisle" and we try to do that as much as we can.

However, it has occurred to me that giving a helpful smile in every aisle can require a lot of effort and take away significant energy from the rest of my work. It may not sound like much but stretching your facial muscles often can make you tired and, despite what some may say that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, I'm afraid I must disagree. So I thought about this not long after beginning my work there and devised a plan to save energy so I can save it for what really matters: the groceries. So far I think the plan has worked quite well and I thought I should tell you about it.

Each day, whenever I happen to walk through aisles on my way somewhere, I will smile and say hello to the customers I meet and ask them if they need any help. There are 14 main aisles and other smaller aisles in other locations, and each one contains different items set in a certain arrangement for people to buy. (I thought I would tell you just in case you wanted to know) I will smile to the men and women, old and young in every aisle... except for half of them. On even days I'll smile in odd number aisles, and on odd days I'll smile in the even numbered aisles. The rest of the aisle I'll just have a normal, indifferent expression. I will still talk to customers when I pass through them but will NOT smile at all of them, thereby saving me around 5% of my energy.

Near the end of the work day, I will gradually increase the number of these aisles until thre-fourths of them are "no smile zones" and this will save me even more energy to make it through the rest of the day. However, I realized that there is still more that I could do so I continued the plan. I noticed that some people who are having a bad day (or bad attitude) take more energy to please, and so I am careful to avoid the aisles they're in, or pretend I don't see them, or something like that. This may sound harsh, but it is probably their own fault that they are in a bad mood, and it shouldn't be my job to make them happy. Besides, if I somehow caught their bad mood and passed it on to those around me, that would cause more damage than anything! Some risks are not worth taking.

The plan doesn't stop here though. On days when I am not in a pleasant mood and don't feel like smiling at all, sometimes I will suck on lemons or think of funny jokes to help myself smile. It is not always effective but works better than nothing. Some days when I don't have much energy I will lift the ends of my lips to just a hint of a smile (and not show my teeth) so customers can probably think I am happy to see them. Another thing I shouldn't forget... grinning (the showing of the teeth) can take twice as much energy as a simple smile, and I am careful to reserve this for important people, such as my employers or people I am eager to impress.

Many of these rules still have their limits of course. If a customer smiles at me, I am obliged to smile back the same as they do or at least 75% as much smileage. And I can't forget to mention that if I see a pretty girl somewhere I will be sure to always ALWAYS give her the biggest smile I possibly can, and put as much energy as possible. What does this have to do with groceries, you may ask? Uh... I'll get back to you on that.

Yet another thing I can't forget to mention; walking outside of aisles. In these zones, I am free to choose whether or not I want to smile at all. I do not consider myself in the aisle until my body is completely between two shelves, and that is where I can smile as long as it is a "smiling zone" for the day. In case you are wondering about places such as the check-outs and outside the building, yes the same rules apply here as with outside the aisles and the mood of the people. I want to keep things simple and not overthink everything. That would just be ridiculous.

In some scenarios I will run into people I am not very fond of and find myself unable to escape them. When this happens I will still smile at them, but in a way that is obviously not friendly and more leaning to the rude and obnoxious (such as sticking out my tongue, giving awkward stares, or pushing my nose up like a pig's). I do this to help them lighten up and stop taking life so seriously, and keep myself from saying things I could regret later. I don't know if it works very well but it's better than nothing. Although I am reconsidering this plan as you read it.

My plan of attack with smiling can sometimes require much thinking and planning ahead, but the rewards are worth it. I can get more work done, save my smiles for people who deserve them, and put the carts and items where they belong with the most of my effort. This is what my job is all about, and I want to always put my priorities in the right shelf. The main thing is always to keep the main thing the main thing.

Of course none of this is true. Anyone who acted like this would be thought of as a very selfish, foolish, and strange person. But let's stop and turn the mirror back towards ourselves. (You probably saw this coming!) How often do we act like this? We treat some people in a loving way, and others in a different way, like ignoring them, showing no respect, or other things like that? How often do we put more importance on material objects instead of people who have a soul that God loves just as much as us, and will spend eternity with Him or in lonely separation? How often do we forget that, like an employee, we represent something and Someone bigger than us, and every action we make will shape thoughts and opinions of that One we represent. We can't pick who gets da love and who gets da leftovers. A song I love and that makes me think is "If We are the Body" by Casting Crowns, and one line goes, "Jesus paid much too high a price for us to pick and choose who should come. And we are the body of Christ." We should do our best to remember who we are, who we are working for, and what we're doing here. Our Father will help us do this task. Let's have a helpful smile and serving heart everywhere we go. Not just when it's easy.

=) =) =) ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ =D =D =D XD XD XD


If you would like a little more to read, here's some ideas from yours truly for interesting telephone voicemail greetings (callback messages). (Or, more honestly, leftover ideas) The first three are ones I have actually used before. You probably won't want to use any of them. :) You don't have to read this if you don't want.

1. (in mid-eastern accent) "Hello. You have reached the cellphone number of Jacob Gibson. I am so sorry that I am not available right now, many apologies. But I will try to get back to you as soon as is humanly possible. In the mean time, you may leave a message if you like. Please wait for the beep that is to come and leave your message. Thank you."

2. (in monotone) "Hello. You have reached the cell phone of Jacob Gibson. If you would like to leave a message, please wait for the beep. If you would like to complain about something, please wait for the beep. If you would like to invite me over, please wait for the beep. For all other questions, please wait for the beep. Thank you. Bye."

3. (in Italian accent) "Hello! It's-a me! Jacob Gibson! Wahoo! I'm-a so sorry that I'm not available right now, but I'm-a busy saving the princess again. Please leave your message after the beep. Thank you so much.

4. (in sad voice) " A caller? Someone actually wants to talk to me? I don't believe it! This is wonderful! I've been so lonely lately and dying to talk to someone. Anyone. Please call back right away! No... I'll call you! No, that might be rude. But I really want to talk to someone. I'll be waiting with baited breath for your call!"

5. (talk in an asian accent and change the L's to R's)

6. (sing deeply and slowly like Barry Manilow) "Oh my baby... oh my baby... oh my ba-aby. It's a real shame that you missed me today... but there's always to-mor-row... to-mor-row. Time just may not have been right for right now... that's okay there's still time to talk. Just tell me what it is that you want from me and I'll be happy... to reach you... again."

7. If you are a telemarketer or a prank caller, I am sorry but you have dialed the wrong number. Please hang up and try again.

8. "Hey. You have reached the awesome and handsome/beautiful _______. If you are a girl/guy wondering if I am single, the answer is I am very single and very available most of the time. (Especially if you are a fat girl because fat girls rule!!! LOL It's one of my dumb running jokes.) Any time you want to go on a date, I'd be extremely... er... very happy to consider it."

9. (rap singing) "Hey! Whazzup, whazzup, whazzup now! (repeat 4x) Check it, you just hit the right numbas and won da lottery. You've reached the superstar homeboy, yo. You've reached the superstar homeboy, yo. You a winner and you'll soon get to talk to me. Give me da info, bro, and I'll hit ya up when I get the time."

10. (speak really really fast) "Hi! How are you doing? You've reached the number of _________. Sorry I'm not here right now but maybe later we can get together and watch a movie and drink pop or tea or coffee or something like (maybe not coffee I've had a little too much) or maybe read a book or play a game. What do you like to play? I've got Sorry, Monopoly, Battleship, Checkers, Chess, Carum, Yahtzee, Operation, Dominoes, Hungry Hippos, Don't Break the Ice, Nintendo, XBox, Playstation, sock puppets, squirt guns, Candy Land, and more. I'm sorry if I'm a little hard to understand right now but I've just had a little too much coffee. I did I say that already? Anyway... call me back soon! TTYL ta ta for now!"

11. "Hello, you have reached the gullible phone service. To talk to your favorite actor or actress, press 1. To talk to your favorite musician, press 2. To talk to the president, press 3. To talk to God, press 4. To talk to a beloved deceased pet, press 5. To leave a message for _______, wait for the beep. If you pressed any buttons then I feel sorry for you."

12. (leave a message and constantly move the phone closer and farther from your mouth)

13. (Italian again) "What do ya think you doin? I said, whaddya think ya doin, kid? Interrupting my business? You better not call me again if you don't want no trouble, ya hear. But if you do want some trouble... feel free to take a chance. It's your life, bud."

14. (scream really loud and do nothing else)

15. (laugh obnoxiously for a moment and do nothing else)

16. (beatbox or doo wop and do nothing else)

17. (record one of your pets making noise)

18. (say that the person can only talk to you if they solve a riddle and then make up something stupid)

19. (talk like your favorite movie character, e.g. Yoda or Sylvester Stalone)

20. "Hey. If your calling about the... uh... the situation that happened recently.... uh... I don't know anything about it. I wasn't there... uh... I was gone at the time and... uh... yeah. Nevermind. Bye."

21.(talk like black preacher) "My friend, you may have been too late to reach me, but it is not TOO LATE to receive FORGIVENESS from the LORD! Hallelujah! It's never too late. No matter what you did... no matter how BAD you think you are... JESUS can FORGIVE you and RESTORE your LIFE for-EVAH! And unlike me, God is available to talk to ALL THE TIME! You can tell Him ANYTHING that's on your mind. (keep it going as long as you want)

22. (sing a parody of a song and change the words to fit your message. I recommend "For the Longest Time" by Billy Joel)

23. "You have 10/15/20 seconds to record your message. Begin now."

24. "Hello. This is ________. I am gone fishing/hunting/golfing right now and having a great time. I won't return for who knows how long.... maybe never. Hopefully you can reach me eventually. Bye."

25. "Greeting friend. Are you sick and tired of listening to annoying callback messages? If so, please join me in the fight against this irritating trend and together we can restore the happiness and simplicity that comes from regular messages...."

26. "Oh, hey, I'm so glad you called. I've got a big project to do and was looking for someone to help me out. I'll be eager to talk to you soon. Bye."

27. "Think fast!"

28. "Beep."

29. (burp loudly)

30. "Hi. This is _______. I may or may not be in a pleasant mood right now so please call back at your own risk. Thank you."

31. "Boy, do you have bad timing."

32. "Why do you people keep calling me?! Can't a man/woman get any peace once in awhile! Gaaaaaaaaah! Uh... I mean... feel free to leave a message."

33. "Hi, this is _______. I am not available right now but you can leave a message with your name and phone number and I'll call you back soon. But first... I have to tell you this hilarious joke I heard! You've got to hear this!..."

34. (talk in leetspeak)
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